Climate change enhances primary production in the western Antarctic Peninsula
Moreau, S and Mostajir, B and Belanger, S and Schloss, IR and Vancoppenolle, M and Demers, S and Ferreyra, GA, Climate change enhances primary production in the western Antarctic Peninsula, Global Change Biology, 21, (6) pp. 2191-2205. ISSN 1354-1013 (2015) [Refereed Article]
Intense regional warming was observed in the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) over the last 50 years. Here, we investigate the impact of climate change on primary production (PP) in this highly productive region. This study is based on temporal data series of ozone thickness (1972–2010), sea ice concentration (1978–2010), sea-surface temperature (1990–2010), incident irradiance (1988–2010) and satellite-derived chlorophyll a concentration (Chl-a, 1997–2010) for the coastal WAP. In addition, we apply a photosynthesis/photoinhibition spectral model to satellite-derived data (1997–2010) to compute PP and examine the separate impacts of environmental forcings. Since 1978, sea ice retreat has been occurring earlier in the season (in March in 1978 and in late October during the 2000s) while the ozone hole is present in early spring (i.e. August to November) since the early 1990s, increasing the intensity of ultraviolet-B radiation (UVBR, 280–320 nm). The WAP waters have also warmed over 1990–2010. The modelled PP rates are in the lower range of previously reported PP rates in the WAP. The annual open water PP in the study area increased from 1997 to 2010 (from 0.73 to 1.03 Tg C yr−1) concomitantly with the increase in the production season length. The coincidence between the earlier sea ice retreat and the presence of the ozone hole increased the exposure to incoming radiation (UVBR, UVAR and PAR) and, thus, increased photoinhibition during austral spring (September to November) in the study area (from 0.014 to 0.025 Tg C yr−1). This increase in photoinhibition was minor compared to the overall increase in PP, however. Climate change hence had an overall positive impact on PP in the WAP waters.